News Column

Life as a lion is exhaustive for Pikes Peak Arts & Music Festival performers

July 6, 2014

By Garrison Wells, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

July 06--Gavin Coulson, 20, was the tail.

At the lion's head was 18-year-old Victoria Zheng.

And for about 15 minutes Saturday morning, the lion was center stage, undulating and dancing for visitors to the 10th Annual Pikes Peak Art & Music Festival put on by the Pikes Peak Arts Council.

The Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu-Lion Dance was a thrumming taste of China as a pair of lions danced to drums. It was one of the more popular events of the day.

It was a performance under the mid-day sun that left the artists -- that would be the dancers underneath the lion's flowing garb -- tired, sweaty and happy.

"Especially the tail," Coulson said afterwards. "There's no ventilation."

The dancers and drummer Sifu Rama Kho practiced three days a week preparing for the performance.

"It's part of our mission to help spread Chinese culture," Kho said.

They are members of Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu, based in Boulder.

"In all parts of life, the lion is very significant," Kho said.

A symbol of prosperity, the lion dance paid off for vendors and visitors to the festival at America the Beautiful Park near downtown Colorado Springs.

First-time vendor Derek Hajdik, by noon Saturday had five "good sales" of higher-end pottery pieces. Prices for his work ranged at the upper end from $50 to $250, including his leaning pottery of larger pieces created to slant.

Liz McCombs, who calls herself a "modern-day gypsy" because she makes a living traveling to shows and selling her wares, had sold 14 pieces of art.

"It's been good so far," she said.

Under her canopy some sculptures resembled E.T., except the eyes were in different places on the bodies.

The idea, McCombs said, is that "you can't just look with your physical eye."

True understanding comes from seeing with all of the body, from all senses, she said.

Also in attendance was Colorado Springs Pride, whose goal was to educate people about equality.

In two weeks, the park will be the site of Colorado Springs PrideFest 2014, said Chuck Allmaras, who staffed the tent along with Charles Irwin and Laura Marjamaa.

Lots of people at the event have stopped to talk about issues facing the gay community, among them gay marriage in Colorado.

"It's about equality in marriage," Allmaras said.

Nora Hardin, director of both the arts council and the festival, said the festival this year has been "very strong."

"Most of the artists I have spoken to are making sales, that's important," she said. "The entertainment has gone really well, there's been a lot of interaction and people are having fun."

The festival has about 104 vendors, she said. Some came from as far as Wichita, Kans. Others were from Santa Fe, N.M.

Last year more than 20,000 people attended, Hardin said.

This year "is pretty much on track for that," she said.

They will all be back Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


(c)2014 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

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Source: Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO)

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